Jewellery and watch director, British Vogue
My Knightsbridge: Rachel Garrahan
What are your earliest memories of Knightsbridge?
It would be going to the museums as a kid. Spending time wandering the halls of the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The one that really registered, though, was the V&A, and it’s still one of my favourite museums. Fashion, decorative arts, furniture and photography; there’s something there for whatever mood you’re in. And its shop is the perfect place for a souvenir as well.
And it’s good for jewellery, too?
Oh, the jewellery galleries are great. I love them, and so it seems do many others as they are among the most widely visited sections of the museum. Jewellery fascinates people I think because there’s such a tangible connection between emotion and beauty. And at the V&A, there’s so much history and so many stories packed into one small space. And the variety – from Beyoncé’s butterfly ring to Queen Victoria’s coronet. One of my favourite pieces is an incredible “stomacher” brooch. Designed like an enormous bouquet of diamond flowers set on concealed springs, the wearer would pin it to their bodice, and as she breathed, the flowers would gently quiver. Step on the right floorboard in the gallery and you see it move.
Can you recommend any hidden gems in the area?
Pantechnicon: it’s a Nordic/Japanese design store packed with homewares, beauty and fashion. It also has restaurants, a sake bar and a heated roof garden that’s just perfect for a cocktail as the sun goes down.
What do you like most about Knightsbridge?
Possibility. There’s so much here – whatever you’re into. And there’s a kind of openness, too, that you don’t often find in London. In a few minutes you can be in Hyde Park… or getting lost in the food hall in Harrods. But I also think that Brompton Road is a grand boulevard – although it is so very London, it is also European in feel. So many of the streets in London are tight and narrow; think of Soho, for example. Brompton Road is on a grander scale.
What is the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Knightsbridge?
Harrods. It’s huge – literally and metaphorically. Throughout my life it’s been the quintessential luxury store and so much a part of the London legend. There’s nothing more Christmassy in this city than when it’s lit up at this time of year. There’s something really special about Harrods when it’s lit up like a Christmas tree.
What would you recommend a tourist do in Knightsbridge for the day?
Well, I’d start out at one of the museums – the V&A of course – and then work my way up to Hyde Park on a city bike to explore the Serpentine Gallery and Kensington Palace. Maybe lunch at Zuma, which is great, or in the food halls at Harrods. If I’m at the latter, given my love of jewellery and watches. I can’t resist wandering the halls to see some of the finest pieces in the world. If watches and jewellery are your thing, there are other places to check out in the area: Watches of Switzerland, Carolina Bucci, Grand Seiko, for example. The Talisman Gallery at Harvey Nichols is great, too; it was founded by the extraordinary Lesley Schiff, who still searches out a great curated offering of jewellery by the world’s best independent designers. After all that shopping, the only thing left to do is head to the Bulgari Hotel for a massage and the use of its 25-metre pool.
Where do you go for the best food and drinks (alcoholic or non) in Knightsbridge?
I had a great meal at the Pavilion Club, a private members’ club that opened last year. The menu there is by Tom Kerridge, who has a few Michelin stars. The food was really good, and even though this is such a busy area, the club feels like an indulgent escape as soon as you walk through its doors. There’s a very elegant bar and also a restaurant with a terrace that looks out onto Hyde Park. I’d also recommend an afternoon tea at one of the hotels – the Lanesbourgh, for example. A cream tea is after all one of the great British traditions.
What’s the most Instagram-able spot in Knightsbridge?
Outside Harrods with a doorman in his distinctive green livery.
If you could own or live in any building in Knightsbridge, what would it be?
I’d live in one of those beautiful squares tucked around the back of the area, with a private garden in the middle.
What gives Knightsbridge its charm?
It’s very, very London, isn’t it? At least it’s very much what tourists think of London; Americans think we all live in Knightsbridge.
If Knightsbridge were a song, what would it be?
I don’t know about the song but Frank Sinatra would sing it for sure.
Can you sum up Knightsbridge in three words?
Culture. Shopping. Pleasure.
If Knightsbridge were a person, who would it be?
There used to be a fantastic jeweller in Knightsbridge called Joseph Kutchinsky, who had a shop on Brompton Road that he opened in 1958. The business had been started by his grandfather at the end of the 19th century. Marrying great imagination and stellar craftsmanship, a Kutchinsky ring is one of my jewellery holy grails. The shop is no longer there, but Joseph Kutchinsky at the height of the Swinging Sixties would be my Mr Knightsbridge.